@RyanIkeComposer. Joshua Du Chene: Hey there, Ryan. Thanks for sitting down with me for this interview. Let's start with you introducing yourself and what you do, then I'll ask you a handful of questions about your career. Ryan Ike: My name is Ryan Ike, I make music and sound primarily for video games, but I also do work in film, television, and advertisement media. JD: Great. What path led you to your career of working in media and video games? RI: I'm really fortunate in that I've sort of always known that I wanted to do music, even from an early age. I've always loved video games, I've always found the music of games inspiring in the way that it's interactive in ways that most music is not. The player gets to affect, in many ways, what happens to the soundtrack. And I always thought it would be cool to do that. But throughout high school, college, and grad school, I always took a really academic focus on music because that's how I thought you got a career doing music. During my grad school program, we mostly studied atonal music because that was being pushed in academia, but I didn't like it. If you're not familiar with atonal music, imagine if you took a xylophone, a pipe organ, a couple anvils and police sirens, and then just pushed them all down a flight of stairs. That's what atonal music sounds like to me. So it really took me doing this type of music I didn't like for three years in grad school to come to the point where I had to make a decision to either keep doing this atonal music I hated, or finally say, "screw it," and go after this other type of music that I actually liked. My wife was also there telling me that I should just do the thing I actually wanted to do. It wasn't like I never thought about doing music for games - I thought about it constantly - but it seemed so inaccessible. It felt like pursuing pro NFL or becoming a movie star, like it was that inaccessible. And there wasn't a a big indie scene back then either, so there were just these very few composers working for these big companies, and it seemed impossible to get in with the high competition and limited jobs. Fortunately, the tools have become better, cheaper, and more accessible so that anybody can do this. And we have a huge indie scene now with more opportunities for audio people. So that's what really helped me get into this career. JD: Amazing, thanks for sharing that. So now that you're working full time in the music industry, what does a typical day on the job look like for you? RI: Since I'm freelance, I work from my home studio and I set my own schedule. So typically, in the morning I take my dog for a walk and go to the gym, and I sit down to work around 10:30am and try to finish around 6:30pm every day. I find that it's really important to have a sense of work-life balance, so I try to keep my work days to eight hours when I can. It's really important to treat your non-work time as sacred - you have to see family, you have to take care of your health, so I keep my work to the weekdays and leave weekends open when I can. It's tricky to give you a picture of what my regular day looks like because it's different every day. Most days I'm working on writing out the next track for a game that I'm working on. Some days I'm doing admin work and getting in touch with clients, other days I'm doing audio work where I'm walking around my apartment banging stuff together and recording it. So there really isn't a regular schedule, it's more like the night before, I write out a list of tasks that I'd like to get done the next day, then I start working on them to see how much I can get done. As you know, the work never ends - it's not like, "Oh, I just need to get these TPS reports out and then I can go home." So I like having that list of things so I can stay on task and see the progress I'm making. JD: So it sounds like you have a structure in place for your workflow, but within that structure it's very free and open for whatever you need to do at the time? RI: Right. One thing I try to do every day, though, is to practice my instrument. Piano is my primary instrument, so when I sit down to work, the first thing I like to do is practice piano for a half hour or so. It's really important for me to keep those skills up and keep learning new things and new music, so that's definitely a part of my routine. I don't want to lose that performance edge, and it's really important for your writing to continue learning to play new music. JD: When you're working, do you ever feel uninspired or come up against writer's block? RI: Oh yeah, I usually have writer's block once or twice a week. JD: What do you do when you're experiencing writer's block? RI: I have to get away from my studio or I'll go insane, so I'll usually get out and take the dog for a walk, or I'll just go do something mundane that doesn't have anything to do with work. One thing I'm working on getting better at now is switching tasks when I hit a wall on something. That's one thing I like about this job, is that I have a variety of projects I'm always working on. So I'm trying to get better at changing to another project when I'm stuck on something, because often that will be enough to help me get back into the flow of things, then when I come back to that other project that was giving me trouble, I'll have new ideas because I gave myself a break from it to do something different. JD: That seems like a great tool to have in your kit. So speaking of roadblocks that come up sometimes, what are some of the biggest challenges you've faced in your career? RI: The challenge of finding your voice, and not only that, but being cool with what your voice is once you find it. That one was kind of rough for me for a while. I went through graduate school and got this degree in music composition, and that sort of put on hold the types of music that I actually like to make. I'm a really melodic composer - I like to write a catchy main line and then hang everything on that. But it took me a long time to accept that was okay having been steeped in a program and culture that considered that a bit low-brow. But once I accepted that and became at peace with the fact that I'm a melodic composer and I like to write catchy things, I've felt a lot better and I enjoy my work so much more. JD: Yeah, it reminds me of high school when it wasn't cool to like certain types of music like pop music and boy bands. I remember hearing stuff that I actually kind of enjoyed, but not letting myself like it, and conversely trying to like stuff I didn't actually enjoy because I thought it was what I was supposed to like based on my friend group and such. RI: You basically just summed up high school in a sentence. Trying to like things you don't actually like. (Laughter) JD: So, we talked about some of the challenges you face in your career, but what are some of the biggest rewards of working in game audio? RI: One of the things I love about this career is that it always provides you the opportunity to be doing a new thing that's kind of uncomfortable, but in an awesome way. With each new project, I'm often doing a style that I'm unfamiliar with, so I do a deep dive into it to try to learn as much about a style as I can. One of the games I'm working on, Where the Water Tastes Like Wine, is very old blues, folk, country, bluegrass type music, which I love, but I've never written that style before. So I get to explore what made those styles what they are and especially in the early Americana era. For another game I worked on called Gunpoint, they wanted me to do like noir jazz, and I can't write jazz for crap. So it was kind of terrifying, but I love that challenge when somebody is like, "Do this type of music you've never done before, and make it sound like you know what you're doing." JD: That sounds like a lot of fun, trying to puzzle together the most important pieces of a style of music so that you can do that style justice while still being your own music. RI: Yeah, it's really rewarding when you finish and people are like, "Man, you must have studied jazz for years," and I'm 99.9% incredibly flattered, but there's that 0.1% that feels like I'm getting away with something. JD: What advice would you give to somebody who was considering a career doing game audio? RI: Assuming you already have a computer, the first thing you'll want to get your hands on is a DAW (digital audio workstation). That's where you're going to be doing most of your work. But it doesn't have to be expensive. What I usually tell people starting out is to get Reaper. It's a full-fledged DAW just like the other big names, but the license is like $60. And they have a free trial period where you can use the full program with all the features to see if you like it. And I think the trial period is pretty much as long as you want to use it, and they just hope that you'll be a good person and eventually pay for the license if you end up using it a lot. JD: Yeah, they have an indefinite free trial where there's just a nag screen that pops up for like five seconds when you open Reaper that asks if you're still evaluating it, and it reminds you to pay for a license if you're going to keep using it. But you can click "still evaluating" as long as you want. RI: Wow, yeah, so get Reaper - it's full featured and there are plenty of professionals who use it as their main DAW. The second thing I would say is to network. At first, this was terrifying for me, but you've got to network. There are plenty of events each year that are worth attending. PAX (Penny Arcade Expo) is a great one that happens here in Seattle every fall at the end of August or beginning of September. While it's mostly for fans, there are tons of industry professionals and indie devs and audio people that go to it. JD: That's where I first met you in 2014 was at the panel you were on at PAX. RI: That's right. It's a great place for that. I'd also recommend GDC in San Francisco. The Game Developer's Conference, which usually happens in March, is the big industry conference where all the professionals go. If you can only go to one thing, I'd recommend going to that because you'll get every stripe of the industry from all over the globe. You'll have these huge booths from all the big companies like Nintendo and Sony, then you'll have a bunch of indie devs showing what they're doing, and then there's people who are making new hardware and all sorts of stuff from everywhere. And it's just for developers, so everyone you meet there works in the industry. Lastly, I'd check out IndieCade in Culver City, California in October. It's much smaller, but it's very focused on the indie scene. Just make sure that you don't go and rub your business card on people's faces. That's what I tried to do my first year, but I've since realized that's kind of gross. What you do is you go to these things to meet new people and make new friends. When you make as many friends as you can in as many facets of this industry, all you do is open doors. You might not get a bunch of gigs right away, but friendships are what are going to eventually get you gigs. If composer A is this amazing web presence and their work is incredible, but you have no connection or relationship with them, and then you've got composer B who is good, but maybe not as experienced, but you've grabbed a coffee or beer with them and you had a great time, you're going to pick B every time, because you want to work with your friends. Even with other game audio people, like we're technically competition, but you'll often get gigs from other audio people whom you've met. JD: Definitely, I've gotten a few gigs from other game audio people, so I can personally attest to that. So in wrapping things up, is there anything else you'd like to share? RI: I would just encourage people that if they want to do this, just go for it, and don't be afraid to be inventive. I have a friend I was mentoring as she began her game audio career, and she would show me something she was writing that was amazing, but she'd ask me, "What if I'm not writing this right? What if this isn't what people like?" So I asked her, "Well, do you like it?" And she said yeah, so I was like, "Well, then go for it." Because if you didn't like what you were writing but you thought that other people might like it, wouldn't that be the worst? To be in a creative field but never make anything that you actually like because you only make things that you think other people will like? That would be rough, but I think a lot of people think that way. Like they think they need to sound like this or that composer, or this sound designer, like that's the correct way to do it. But the correct way to do it is the way that you do it. I mean, keep learning and growing and everything, but always be authentic, because people are going to be coming to you for your sound, not the way you imitate somebody else's sound. If they wanted that other person, they would hire them, and if they can't afford to hire them, they can hire one of the twelve billion people who can emulate that person better than you do. But nobody is going to emulate you better than you. That's a lesson that took me a long time to learn, so if you can just skip over that whole thing and just start making music the way you want to make it, popularity be damned, that'd be the best. JD: That's amazing advice, and I think that's a great way to wrap this up. Thanks again for taking the time to sit down with me and chat about all this great audio stuff. RI: Yeah, of course. This was super fun. Bye, everybody!
Interview with Brickapella Scat & the Dance Mazers and Live Performance of “Oh, Fly, Starr Wolf” On ITGC 4242fmHere at ITCG, Intergalactic Radio, we recently had the opportunity to interview the up-and-coming musical group, Brickapella Scat and the Dance Mazers about their current Chasing the Legend tour. We learned more about the story behind their name, their lyrics, and their musical inspirations, and we received a live performance of their song, “Oh, Fly, Starr Wolf”. A full transcription of the interview is available below, as well as an audio recording of the interview and a live performance of the song, “Oh, Fly, Starr Wolf”. Check your local show listings to see if Brickapella Scat and the Dance Mazers are performing in your region of the galaxy. Interview Transcription: Coming to you live with 42 trillion watts of power - you’re listening to ITGC, Intergalactic Radio, 4242fm. Marti MacEwan (MM): Welcome back to ITGC Live! This is Marti MacEwan about to bring you a special live performing guest! Set apart by their spin on Classic Earth musical genres, Brickapella Scat and the Dance Mazers have been selling out shows across the galaxy on their Chasing the Legend tour. They're currently touring our part of the galaxy, so we have them in the studio today for an interview and a live musical performance. MM: Thanks for coming by to visit us at the studio! Brickapella Scat and the Dance Mazers (BS&DM): It’s our pleasure, Marti. MM: How has your Chasing the Legend tour been going so far? BS&DM: The tour has been great; we’ve been playing to great audiences, and we're seeing some beautiful places in the galaxy along the way that most of us haven’t been to before, so it’s been a wonderful experience. MM: Well, we're glad you made it out to our little corner of the galaxy. BS&DM: We’re glad we made it out here, too. MM: I was wondering, where does your band's name come from? BS&DM: Good question. Our name and our music are both inspired by a couple different things. First, we all really like Classic Earth music - acapella, being without instrumentation, so just voices - then there’s scat, which is a type of jazz vocal technique. And when electronic music was being first produced on Earth, dance music was a type of music that was really popular, so we kind of mimic all these styles with our music. So that’s part of it. The other part - the more interesting part, I think - is this story of this guy who was revived after being frozen for over 100 years, and he flies around in his trusty old ship, the Starr Wolf, blasting the heck out of slime-balls all over the universe. The guy's name is Brick. Brick M. Stonewood - the M is for Metal. It's a pretty cool story, and we've heard that it's actually real, so he’s a big inspiration. And we like following folk legends; at the time we were forming the band, it [Brick's story] was a big deal to us, so we stuck with that for the name. MM: You reference Brick in your song, “Oh, Fly, Starr Wolf,” which we understand you'll be performing for us live here in the studio, correct? BS&DM: Yes, we certainly will. MM: What is it that you say about Brick in the song? BS&DM: We say, "Brick Metal Stonewood is a superhero as he zooms around inside his wicked Starr Wolf.” And then we end with a great chorus of, “Oh, fly, Starr Wolf." So, it's kind of like a tribute to this raw, unconventional guy. MM: Great. And to call him a superhero, he must really... strike a chord with you. BS&DM: Good one. Yeah, we like this dude's story quite a bit. We also came from nothing and we've had some hard knocks ourselves - nothing like being frozen for a hundred years - but we can kind of relate. Brick is just this guy who got a raw deal and now he's making the best of it. So when he's in his ship zooming around the galaxy, he's kind of like a superhero to us. MM: Speaking of his ship, the Starr Wolf, you refer to it as 'wicked'? BS&DM: Yeah, that's another Earth term that basically meant that something was really cool. So in our book, anything as unassuming as the Starr Wolf with that kind of firepower is pretty wicked. MM: Well, when you put it that way, I guess I'd call it wicked as well. Thanks again for taking the time to answer a few questions. BS&DM: Yeah, thanks for having us. MM: We'll now move on to the performance where we have Brickapella Scat and the Dance Mazers performing “Oh, Fly, Starr Wolf”. To our listeners: We recommend activating your earphones to more accurately experience the sound of the live performance on our soundstage. Take it away, fellas! To listen to the full interview and song, click below. To skip directly to the song, click below.
Chobits series and watching Her (both of which explore worlds where AI has been achieved to various extents), I found it fitting that I would hear about The Grid, an upcoming "AI" site designer (more like machine learning). It's supposed to create websites based on one's preferences and content with little to no work on behalf of the user. For example, whenever you add a new post, video, picture, song, product, etc., it automatically incorporates it into your page in a way that fits the feel, style, and function of your site. And it looks like it's going to be rather visually pleasing to boot. I've been trying to find an easy way to organize and theme my various websites and create a couple new ones for some other projects (some of them specifically music related!) without having to put in tons of time and money to build them (I've finally accepted that I'm not a web-designer), so unsurprisingly, I found this discovery very serendipitous. I've enjoyed learning tiny bits and pieces about site development over the years, but I have a tendency to get caught up in the details, and I sometimes find myself trying to make boring, static templates look nicer. So I'm excited to be soon moving my sites (including this one!) to a service that takes care of a lot of the more mundane work for me. And apparently, there will still be a large amount of customization possible for actual web-developers (I think I'm just going to let it do most [all] of the work for me). According to their site, they're slated to launch in "late Spring," and they're offering what's basically super discounted and beefed-up pre-orders until then: you get seven websites (7!) for eight dollars a month ($8!), plus a handful of other goodies! (After launch, it's $25 a month with fewer goodies!) They offer the pre-order as a year subscription for $96, and that locks you in at the $8 a month rate for life. Pretty sweet! If you've ever wanted a seemingly ridiculously easy way to make a really clean looking site (or 7 of them) about stuff you're interested in, I'd encourage you to check them out soon so you can get in on the super cheap early-bird plan before the price triples! And if you found this info valuable and you decide to go with The Grid, please visit them through the following link as they'll give me a little credit toward my pre-order (you'll also get your own link that will do the same): https://thegrid.io/#34368 I hope some of you find this useful or at least interesting and exciting! Watch the video below for more info on The Grid. TL;DR: The Grid is an upcoming "AI" site designer which will build attractive, functional, custom websites for you with minimal work. If you pre-order soon, you get locked in for life at an insanely low rate of $8 a month... for 7 websites! And if you use my link to go to the site and you pre-order as well, which would be really rad of you, I'll get some credit back on my order! Link: https://thegrid.io/#34368
https://soundcloud.com/pro/gifts) If you've got a buck or two you can donate and you have a PayPal account, my PayPal account email address is: JoshuaDuChene@gmail.com I also accept bitcoin donations below. Thanks for all your support! Lastly, Happy Halloween!!!
Will Moyer, recently wrote an eBook called Writing For The Web. I like supporting my friends and the projects they undertake, but I seldom go out of my way to write rave reviews of their work or share their blog posts or music unless I find their work especially valuable, or I at least think people in my circles would. This book happens to be one of those few things that fits into both those categories. Imagine that for your entire life you've been cooking your stir-fry by holding a match under a coffee cup. This book is a fully stocked commercial kitchen with Emeril Lagasse as your guide. "Bam! You just kicked your writing process up a notch!" Seriously, I think of this book as one big, easy-to-follow pro-tip on how to create an efficient and personalized writing flow with a bunch of tools that you can download for free! I've never liked writing - notice the massive amount of time between blog posts on this site? However, what I didn't realize is that a big part of my displeasure with writing was caused by the terrible tools I was using. My grad thesis just about killed me, mostly because I was using Microsoft Word. (Spoiler: Word sucks if you are attempting to use it to write anything, ever.) Will's book provides a vast range of recommendations for programs to help writers more efficiently accomplish different tasks in their personal workflows, such as text editors for hassle-free content creation, tools for seamless group collaboration, programs for easily getting content web-ready, and plenty more. I knew that Word sucked, that it always screwed up all my formatting, and that files I wrote in one version of Word probably wouldn't be fully compatible with last year's version (does that even make any sense?), but I didn't know why, and I didn't know what else to use. Writing For The Web changed all of that for me. Will outlines different parts of the writing process and shares what types of programs and tools are most useful for those different tasks. And far from taking a one-size-fits-all approach, he encourages writers to try out different tools and see which ones work best for their personal writing flow. What I found even more impactful than Will's thorough explanation of all the free programs and tools available, however, is that he urges writers to think more deeply about their personal writing processes, and he explains quite convincingly how taking a little time to construct a personal writing process with intention saves major time and energy in the long haul. For being such a clean, technical looking book, it really delves into the philosophy behind writing, and it's really easy to follow, even if you consider yourself tech-illiterate. I'm not kidding when I say that this is the kind of book that your grandmother could get a lot of value out of (not to assume your grandmother isn't tech savvy - she might be a programming wizard for all I know). If you ever write anything using a computer (college students, bloggers, journalists, soccer moms, etc.), this book will help you personalize and streamline your writing process in ways you didn't know were possible. And if you're someone who dislikes writing, you may even start to enjoy writing after reading it (kind of like I have). Pick up this book and start investing in your personal writing process - your brain will thank you for it. To get your copy of Will's eBook, Writing For The Web, click on this Amazon.com link. Check out a free sample chapter here.